Profile: Russ Feingold (D), U.S. Senate


It’s a political battle we’ve seen before, but will we see the same results this election?

Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson is trying to keep his seat, while Democrat and former senator Russ Feingold is trying to win it back.

Feingold held that Senate seat for three terms — 18 years — and he’s relying on experience and bipartisanship to get it back on election day.

After more than 30 years in politics, Russ Feingold has spent the last six teaching on college campuses, writing, and serving the State Department as a special envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo following his 2010 election loss to current senator Ron Johnson.

Since that loss, Feingold says he’s witnessed what he calls division at the state level with the implementation of Act 10 that led to weeks of protests in Madison.

He’s also been discouraged by the emergence of the tea party in Washington. As he says, it’s tried to freeze the federal government.

Those two issues are the biggest reasons why Feingold made the decision to try and win his Senate seat back.

“I felt it was time for me to step up to the plate, if people wanted me to, to see if we could reverse that, get back to a state where we work together and where we honor everyone’s work, not just certain kinds of people’s work. I think that’s the ethic I was brought up with in Janesville. My parents instilled that in me, that everyone’s work is valuable, instead of mocking other people’s work.”

And work is what Feingold wants to do, as he touts how well he knows and understands what the people of Wisconsin are concerned about after traveling the state extensively.

“I listen to the people of this state. I’ve been to all 72 counties this year and last year. Senator Johnson basically did none of that for four-and-a-half years in his term. You cannot understand what the people of this wonderful state that I grew up in want and need if you just go on Fox News and stay in Washington. You’ve got to get out there and listen.”

Feingold says he’s heard from people about job creation, their concerns about national security and health care and Social Security.

They’re all issues Feingold believes won’t be solved by Democrats or Republicans but by lawmakers crossing the aisle — something he’s done in the past.

“Of course people know about the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Bill, but there are many other bills. One of the things that probably I like the best, a couple of times when new Republican senators came to Washington, they pulled me aside and introduced themselves to me and said, ‘Russ, we just had a meeting and were told you were the best Democrat to work with.’ And that makes me feel really good, because people in Wisconsin has always believed, yes, you’re going to talk a little Democrat or Republican at the time of the election, but afterward they want you to work together.”

And while Feingold doesn’t believe Donald Trump will win the presidential election, should he and Trump both come out victorious, Feingold is more than willing to work with the president to accomplish what is not only in the best interest of the country but more importantly in the best interest of those in the State of Wisconsin.

“I believe it would be my responsibility to work with whoever becomes president. And obviously I don’t think he’s going to be president. I think he’s completely unqualified, I think it’s completely irresponsible that Senator Johnson is supporting him, but I believe in our system of government. I believe that if the president is elected, duly elected, we have to try and help that president succeed.”

With the campaign season wrapping up and election day just days away, Russ Feingold is encouraging people to take advantage of their right to vote — and to send him back to Washington, where he wants to get right to work